Planning to attend some backyard barbecues this summer? You might want to tuck this handy gadget in among your hot dog buns and sunscreen. Created by California-based Point Source Power, VOTO is a fire-activated fuel cell. Designed to work with any type of camping stove or charcoal grill, it turns the heat of a regular flame into power for your phone.
While it’s not the first gadget to turn waste heat from burning biomass into electricity, Voto is the first that’s compatible with just about any open flame cooking device. If successfully commercialized, it could make the creation of affordable power and light possible for back country adventurers as well as the developing world.
The key to Voto’s portable power generation is the internal fuel cell, a specialty of Point Source Power. “Our fuel cells utilize the chemical energy stored in plants to directly produce electricity through a reaction that is essentially a mirror of the plant’s natural process of photosynthesis,” explain the device’s creators. “Plants convert sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into carbon compounds and oxygen. Our cells use these carbon compounds and oxygen to produce electricity, heat, water, and carbon dioxide. We call this reversed process Votosynthesis.”
To use the device, simple insert the fuel cell end of Voto into the hot charcoals of a cook fire. he rest of the device juts out from the stove, looking like a long kebab skewer, and the cell phone charges from a cord (called the Voto Dash) at the end of the Voto, explains PopSci. Any LED light built into the end of the Voto ensures that you always know where your gadget is, even if cooking at night. There’s also an available accessory that makes it possible to charge AA batteries using charcoal heat, as well as an attachment that makes it possible to use Voto using an open flame fire when there’s no charcoal.
Graham Jacobsen the CEO of Point Source Power explains more in the video below.